Cusco is one of the most enthralling cities in the world. With its ancient ruins dating back to pre-Incan period and its numerous hip cafes and bars, Cusco has got everything a tourist might ever want. What makes Cusco special is the number of ruins and citadels that dot the city and its outskirts. One such citadel is the Sacsayhuamán, spelled in a number of ways such as Sacsayhuaman, Sacsahuaman, Saxahuaman, etc.
The citadel was first built by the Killke culture around 1100 but the region had been occupied since 900. It was later fortified and expanded by the Incas in the 13th century. They built dry stone walls around the citadel to protect it against invaders. The site is located at an altitude of 12,142 feet above sea level and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The citadel is located on a steep hill and is just outside Cusco. During the siege of Cusco by the Spaniards, the entire citadel was destroyed and stones from the fort was used to build houses for the wealthy Spaniards in Cusco. In fact, the Spanish didn’t want to waste time building grand structures in the colonial part of Cusco and thus used the stones from destroyed buildings and forts in Sacsayhuamán and transported them to Cusco. Only those stones that were too large to be moved remain at the site of ruins today.
In 2008, archaeologists discovered additional ruins in Sacsayhuamán, which are thought to have been built by the Killke culture. Unfortunately, heavy rains and flooding destroyed parts of this newly found ruins in 2010. When you are visiting Cusco, it is extremely important to make a visit to Sacsayhuamán fort holds some of the secrets of how Peru was colonized and populated by Europeans.
An annual Inca festival called Inti Raymi is celebrated at Sacsayhuamán on 24th of June. If you happen to visit Cusco next month, don’t forget to attend this colorful festival.